COVID-19 Update: Information Recap for Parents

   COVID-19 Updates | Posted on March 14, 2020

Dear Parents and Families,

We are at the end of a week of massive and unexpected changes for our students, employees and Andrews University itself as we take significant steps to help keep our campus family and community safe in response to the spread of the COVID-19 disease.

We’ve been sharing a number of updates about our switch to distance/online education and its implications with your son or daughter and with our Berrien Springs campus community, in campus releases and on the University’s social media channels (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram).

However, as we reach the end of this incredible week, several of you have reached out with frustration about and an eagerness for frequent direct communication with you, the parents and families of our students. I am sorry that we have not communicated as directly as we wished this week, and Andrews University offers its sincere apologies. I hope that in many cases, your students may have already shared some of this information with you.

So, what I’d like to do this evening is simply gather together, and provide links to the primary pieces of communication that have been shared here on campus. You may have seen some of these already, but I want to make sure you see them all. Also, as you may have heard or seen, Andrews University has published a consolidated website about Andrews University’s ongoing response to COVID-19, including details about ongoing changes in University operations. It also includes helpful resources and information about this global pandemic.

I appreciate the chance I’ve had to dialogue with some of you and many of your sons and daughters about the impact and implications of our decision to transition to online education. I’m grateful for all of the feedback and I cherish your interest and prayers as we move forward on this uncertain and complicated journey.

The impact of COVID-19 on Andrews University began on Monday, March 9, with an announcement suspending current plans for any University-sponsored international trips—including work assignments and study tours. Domestic travel was strongly discouraged in that communication as well.

By Wednesday, March 11, the situation in our country and our world in its response to the troubling global spread of the COVID-19 virus inspired a further significant transformation of our world and our University. Please review the significant campus update from Provost Christon Arthur, distributed to campus early Wednesday evening, that announced the University’s critical decision to switch to distance/online education, beginning after the end of spring break on March 23 until the end of spring semester.

This week, we had two powerful Town Hall meetings with employees and students to talk about what impact this decision will have on our students. During the Thursday Town Hall chapel, it was announced that spring graduation ceremonies scheduled for May 1–3 were also postponed.

As referenced in my March 13 message, residence hall students were asked to begin making plans to return to their permanent home, or a location deemed best, no later than Sunday, March 22. For many of our international students, returning to homes outside of North America is not practical or possible at this point and these students, as well as others with unique academic or personal circumstances, will continue to live on our campus even though in-person classes will not be held.

As we have made this change, many of our students have already begun to return to their homes as our spring break began yesterday. The letter I sent yesterday outlines the next steps our students in residence halls should take in response to this decision, including how to apply for an exception, and how prorated housing refunds will be determined.

Also, most of our residence hall students have meal plans for eating on campus. Chip Meekma, vice president for Financial Administration, shared details on how those meal plans are impacted in a letter that describes how prorated refunds of meal plans will be processed for our residence hall students who move out over the next week.

Finally, as I shared earlier in this note, you’ll be able to continue to find overall information, resources and ongoing updates about Andrews University’s response to the COVID-19 disease here. Also, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me with any specific questions you have regarding your son or daughter and their plans as well as their needs for support and care in the successful completion of their semester. Campus support will continue from our counselors, Student Success team, Student Life deans and chaplains. 

In closing, I want to assure you that Andrews University is a community of faith and hope that remains committed to the influence and power of God in all of our lives, especially amidst these challenging times.

Please know that our prayers continue to mingle with yours in this time of uncertainty and profound change for you and your families, for Andrews University, and for our neighbors and friends around the world. My personal prayer is that God may help us press together in love for one another even as we are being physically kept at a distance.

With care,

Frances Faehner
Vice President for Campus & Student Life